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Mirsurg, a laser for brain tumor masses reduction

Mirsurg is a joint project lasting about three years founded by the European Union within the 7th Framework Programme.
The acronym Mirsurg stands for Mid-Infrared Solid-State Laser Systems for Minimally Invasive Surgey.

The above project, coordinated by Valentin Petra of Max Born Institute in Berlin for Nonlinear Optics and Ultrafast Spectroscopy, incorporating itself from nine different research institutes in Europe, is focused on the development of a laser source designed to make more usable, in economic terms and not, the micro-invasive neurosurgery with the purpose of the reduction of tumor masses in the brain. The laser should emit a wavelength of approximately 6.45 microns and potentially provide a high amount of energy and average power per single pulse.

The depth of penetration in this wavelength will be related to the size of the cell (not a few micrometers), which will serve to prevent damage in surrounding areas during the removal of the tissue.

Previous studies performed in the United States by means of the free electron laser, the so-called FELs, have scientifically proven that the neurosurgery performed at a wavelength of 6.45 microns leads to excellent results. Each laser generates coherent radiation with very high brightness. For applications related to biomedicine, however, the FELs are impractical because equipped with overly bulky and uneconomical accelerators . Consequently it becomes necessary the development of new substitute technologies equipped with compact photonic solid state springs  so that they can be positioned without any difficulty on a common surface of the medical device.

The underlying strategy is the use of nonlinear optical techniques (OPO) in combination with infrared pump laser springs (approximately 1-2 microns) and innovative materials in order to obtain an unprecedented energy level (it is estimated roughly 10mj) near the above-mentioned wavelength, at a repetition frequency of 100 Hz (corresponding to an average power of 1W). Such a system would provide improved control and greater accuracy for the cure and the prevention of the pathology both at the level of a single cell and at the level of cellular structures out more complex depending on the adoperate pulse shapes.

Header image credits: psicologiaeconsumi.it
Edited by Francesca Suriano, Engineering student at Polytechnic University of Turin

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